Autumn Gear Guide

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Fall Favorites, Gear for Every Autumn Adventure

By Jedd Ferris, Jack Murray, and Chase Lyne

Whatever your sport of choice, raise your game this fall with one of these new field-tested favorites.

run

1. Merrell Bare Access

Skittish about making the move to minimalism? Merrell’s Bare Access is made to help make the transition to natural running form. Like most barefoot running shoes, it has an even zero-drop platform from the ball of your foot to the heel, but some added cushioning (8 millimeters) offers a slight buffer for getting used to pavement pounding with less protection. $90; merrell.com 

2. Icebreaker Tracer Short

The Tracer is as soft as your old favorite gym shorts. The culprit is cozy merino wool, which fortunately for sweat-heavy runners features plenty of technical defense, including natural moisture management and odor-controlling properties that kept our tester surprisingly dry down low during an eight-mile late summer jaunt. $70; icebreaker.com 

ride

3. Turner Bicycles Sultan

The Turner Sultan is a 29er dual suspension trail bike with 125mm of front and rear travel. The aluminum frame is hand built around a DW link rear suspension system that makes for an efficient ride. Plus attention to detail on features like the post-mount disc brakes, threaded zerk grease fittings, and seat dropper cable routing set this bike apart from other similar models. On climbs the DW link suspension keeps the rear end planted, while on the way down the slack angles and 125mm help you stay ahead of your riding pals. Unfortunately, such a good ride comes at a price. $2,495 (frame), $5,229 (expert build); turnerbikes.com 

4. Cannondale Ryker Helmet

The Ryker is a well-vented lightweight helmet that will keep your head straight during long days of singletrack cranking. The soft pads inside the polycarbonate shell are made with wicking material so sweat gets put in its place, and the small adjustment dial in the back proved reliable during our test for a quickly adjusted comfortable fit. $80; cannondale.com 

hike

5. Mountain Hardwear Wanderin 32 Pack

The Wanderin is all about sweat relief on Appalachian overnights. The innovative breathable suspension system puts a mesh wall and ample room between your back and the bulk of the pack. Add some sleekly designed ventilated shoulder straps, and this pack proved to reduce much of the annoying friction dampness that comes with increased trail mileage. Another feature we liked was the built-in rain cover in the nicely sized lower pocket. $185; mountainhardwear.com 

6. Big Agnes Zirkel SL 20

The Zirkel SL is a broad-cut mummy bag that features the serious softness of 800-fill goose down. The backcountry comfort is only enhanced by the built-in sleeping pad sleeve—stitched into the top half of the bag in order to work with a range of pad sizes. On chillier nights, another key feature is the no-draft collar, which cradles your neck to keep out cold air. $399.99; bigagnes.com

7. Salewa Firetail GTX 

As light as a trail runner but built to be tougher for technical trails, the Firetail will have you reevaluating your hiking footwear choices. It’s nice and light up top, while the sticky sole means the Firetail can take a hit and hold its grip on rocky trails. Our tester lauded it as a burly trail prowler that earns comfort points for the customizable foot beds. $150; salewa.us

8. The North Face Phoenix 3 Tent

The Phoenix 3 is designed to keep water out without the expected extra weight of most three-season, three-person tents. It utilizes TNF’s innovative DryWall fabric, so a simple single-wall design with built-in vestibules keeps moisture at bay without the need for a second layer. Our testers loved the simple two-pole pitch and the minimal weight to carry for such a big tent (4 lbs. 13 oz.). $389; thenorthface.com

9. Osprey Farpoint 40

This compact bag ensures carry-on compliance on most flights and converts from a handbag to a backpack in a flash. Best of all, it carries like a premium backcountry backpack, with padded, low-profile shoulder straps and a snug hip belt. The lightweight frame provides flexible load support through the woods, and the padded handles provide comfy carry through the airport. $149. osprey.com

10. Ex Officio Chica Cool Hoodie

With its comfy, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant fabric, this pullover hoodie is styled for versatility whether you’re taking a hike or taking it easy. $45. exofficio.com

fall weather gear

paddle

11. LiquidLogic Remix XP10 

If you’re the boater who loves lengthy flatwater exploration but also occasionally gets a wild hair and likes to paddle a class II-III stretch, this is the boat for you. Specifically made to bridge the gap between the swells and the serene, the Remix XP10 has a design that extends from the roots of Liquid Logic’s pioneering whitewater boats, but the extended waterline and skeg enable the XP to smoothly cruise the flats. Plus, a dry storage compartment in the back holds plenty of gear for extended overnight trips. $999; liquidlogickayaks.com

12. Astral Camino

If you find too much PFD to be a nuisance, the Camino is a sleek and safe alternative. Made in the Blue Ridge by Asheville-based Astral, it’s a unisex, extremely lightweight float jacket that’s designed to offer maximum air flow on mild whitewater trips or longer touring jaunts. $115; astralbuoyancy.com

13. Astral Brewer

Born on the banks of the Green River Narrows, the Brewer is a hometown paddle shoe built with Blue Ridge paddlers in mind. The super-grippy rubber sole provides claw-like traction on wet, mossy rocks, which makes scouting and portaging a lot less dicey. The shoes handle well in the cockpit, with drainage holes and tough Cordura uppers. They’re equally popular at the post-river hangout. Lightweight and minimalist at 214 grams, the breathable shoe was already dry by the time we left the river and arrived at the bar. $100. astralbuoyancy.com

fish

14. Fishpond Tumbleweed Chest Pack

The fly fishing vest is sooo 2011; get with it and get a chest pack. The Tumbleweed is a versatile, lightweight option that can be used as a chest, lumbar, or sling pack. One large pocket holds fly boxes and essentials, while a zip-down pocket holds a removable foam pad for extra fly storage. This pack also has enough little pockets and loops for all your tools and integrates with a larger backpack, so it’s perfect for a hands-free day on the water. $60; fishpondusa.com

15. Redington Pursuit Outfit

With the Pursuit series, Redington set out to make a quality fast action rod at an affordable price. They succeeded. The Pursuit is ready to fish right out of the box with rod, reel, line, and leader and its smooth action is comparable to rods twice, or even thrice, its modest price. This outfit comes in all shapes and sizes and is a perfect rod for the novice fly fisherman or as a backup rod. The Pursuit’s affordability and ease of use would also make a great gift for a niece, nephew, or girlfriend you are trying to convince fishing is cool. $179; redington.com

16. Tenkara USA 12’ Iwana

Tenkara fishing has taken off in the U.S. over the past year, and our Blue Ridge streams and wild brook trout are exactly what these rods are made for. With its medium flex and 12 feet of length, the Iwana is a great all-around rod. This rod telescopes to 20 inches, so adding it to your usual backpacking gear is a no-brainer, and with limited moving parts, you don’t have to worry about your reel exploding on the water. Plus, a 12-inch trout will feel like a 20-incher when fighting it on a Tenkara. $160; tenkarausa.com

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